My husband and I decided to make Paris, The City of Light, our 2016 just-the-two-of-us destination. I've been pining for it ever since I spent a weekend there during my study abroad in 2007. This time we had a whole week. I had a few sites I wanted to see again, and some that I missed out on the first go around. For the most part, we wanted to just walk around the beautiful city, and see what we discover along the way - that's how we, er, stroll...
And stroll and stroll and stroll. We averaged 17,800 steps a day. Half way through the week, we had to buy sneakers because the shoes we packed (stylish flats for me, Sperrys & boots for J) were not cutting it. These were my favorite destinations, translated into English:
1. Jardin du Luxembourg = Luxembourg Gardens - After visiting here once, we had the best intentions to go again before our trip was over, but just didn't pull it off. So, I'm making this #1 to assuage my disappointment. This garden offered the beauty, serenity, and people watching we love. Although, I think it was a somewhat annoying stroke of fate that we snagged a couple of primely located chairs in earshot of an American girl talking on the phone about planning her wedding. If you're new to my site, I am a wedding planner. I did not reveal my superpowers. I learned that lesson when we got too friendly with a bartender having pre-marital woes with the shopkeeper across the street. Saving that story for my eventual screenplay. Anyhoo, a split of rosé, Maison Georges Larnicol chocolate, and sunshine allowed me to blissfully tune out.
2. Chateau de Versailles - Palace of Versailles - This was high on my list to revisit. Fun story, not really: When I visited the first time, I was separated from my group of friends because I got distracted in the Hall of Mirrors. I characteristically panicked and raced through the rest of the rooms, took a peak at the gardens, and rushed to the front entrance in hopes of being found. My friends were mad because they, too, missed out on the gardens out of worry for me. We left. I made J promise we wouldn't be separated. In the THIRD ROOM, his audio tour headset stopped working so he asks a guard what he should do. The guard, who barely spoke English, pointed down a staircase. J shrugs, turns, and tells me to wait there - SERIOUSLY! Thankfully, he made his way back to me. The palace was breathtaking, almost overwhelming in its grandness. It's amazing to think about the daily lives of those who dwelled there. This time, I got more than just a peak of the gardens which are expansive and immaculate. We had lunch at a restaurant that was tucked away in a hedge maze. J treated me to a canoe trip down the Grand Canal. C'est trés romantique! We made the scenic trek to the Petit Tianon; skipped the Grand Triannon in favor of Marie-Antoinette's Estate which was partially under construction. We weren't the least bit disappointed - we had the best time befriending all the farm animals.
3. The River Seine - It was astounding how walking down a set of stairs completely altered my view of the city. The energy shift was palpable. I think my suburban bubble has affected me more than I realized. I once yearned for the hustle and bustle of big cities. Now, I'm most happy slightly on the edge of the fray. That's where I found myself when we descended from street level to walk along the Seine. Along the Seine, I could focus on the bigger picture of Paris. I wasn't the only one - we passed a group of art students painting the scene before them. I was surprised that the sidewalk was not crowded and the water didn't stink. I loved the chalk art. It was mostly puzzles and letters, like what you would see outside of an elementary school, but this was obviously purposefully and professionally done.
4. La grand Roue = The Great Ferris Wheel - I tell you, my husband was pulling out all the stops when he willingly waited in line to take me on my first ferris wheel ride (I was saving my first time to be with someone special).
5. Tour Eiffel = Eiffel Tower - This was highest on my list to revisit. J suggested we have a sunset picnic on the Parc du Champ de Mars (= park next to the Eiffel Tower - not a direct translation), and if I were a cartoon character, I would have had giant hearts in place of my eyes in that moment. Unfortunately, which seems too gentle a word, the Champ de Mars was completely barricaded and designated as a Euro Cup Fan Zone. We did get to see the tower up close, and it is a site to behold with its architectural fretwork.
6. Avenue des Champs-Élysées - Make your way from La gran Roue to the Arc de Triomphe via this beautiful boulevard. Don't be in a hurry. Take time to step off the path into the grassy alcoves. Once the grass turns into concrete then you'll find some very big, very American feeling stores. This would not be my recommendation for a shopping destination unless it's the Louis Vuitton flagship. Boutiques are more my thing. We did have the best French meal of our trip at Laduree.
7. Speaking of food, I'm going to be honest, French food is not our favorite. However, we found some notable Italian fare. La Favorita was our neighborhood go-to and Del Papa took the title for best of the trip.
8. Musée d'Orsay - It was really moving to see such a large collection of Impressionist Era paintings in person. J was less moved than I. He had a pretty hilarious commentary running, but every now and then stopped to appreciate a work stating simply, "I like this one."
9. Oasis Garden in Montmatre - At the end of a long day, it was nice to come "home." We rented a charming apartment on Air B&B on the edge of the 9th and 18th arrondissements near Montmartre and La Basilique du Sacre Coeur (= The Basilica of the Sacred Heart). There are a whopping 300 steps leading to Sacre Coeur. They are totally worth it for the best panoramic view of Paris. If street peddlers didn't agitate me so much, I would have spent much more time on those steps.